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The week of dishonest men

8 January 2017

The week of dishonest men

In a single week in Brussels three dishonest men have been in the news and the only question now is whether they will leave the stage or grow even more powerful. The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, turns out to be even more intensely involved in tax dodging by multinationals than recently seemed to be the case. Austrian Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who was caught not long ago making sexist remarks and has been involved in a case of conflict of interest, is now apparently being envisaged as the new Commission Vice-President. And to make matters worse the big corporations’ champion, Guy Verhofstadt, has declared his candidacy for president of the European Parliament. With friends like these, the EU has no need of enemies.

Previous to this we had Luxleaks, in the framework of which documents were leaked in which it was shown that Juncker, while still in Luxembourg, was actively involved in the development of systems which facilitated tax evasion by multinationals. Luxembourg having at the time few other sources of income, Juncker deliberately opted to develop the principality as a tax haven. Now it emerges that as Luxembourg’s Prime Minister he lobbied in Brussels when plans were being made to develop a code of conduct to hinder tax evasion. The same man is now trying, as president of the European Commission, to combat tax evasion. This is completely unbelievable, which is why I have supported renewed calls for his resignation. The question is very much, however, whether that is going to happen, because it would require the heads of government to act, and they have thus far shown no interest in doing so. Some of them probably have too much to hide themselves.

I have already written about Oettinger. Together with a group of like-minded MEPs I have sent a letter to Juncker telling him that he should withdraw his proposal to promote this Commissioner by broadening his portfolio to include human resources and taxation. A man who makes sexist remarks is not one whom I can very easily see conducting diversity policy, while one who happily uses a business chum’s private jet to take a trip to Hungary isn’t really suitable if you want someone to ensure just budgetary policies. Yet there’s a good chance that Oettinger will hang on to his new portfolio. To date, our group – the United Left – and the Greens have opposed the centre-right Oettinger. It’s difficult to guess what the other political groups are going to do, but if Oettinger’s appointment is approved, the European Parliament isn’t worth a bean.

To top the lot we now have the candidature of the Belgian Liberal Guy Verhofstadt for the presidency of the European Parliament, now available as a result of the departure of Martin Schulz. Verhofstadt likes to present himself as a ‘European’ with a sacred belief in superstate Europe, while he is in reality someone who has done tons of moonlighting as a member of the board of directors of multinational corporations. With him as president you can be certain that the EP would be committed to the neoliberal superstate Europe. Because on this occasion the larger centre-right group the European People’s Party, and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats, haven’t been able to cut a deal, it can’t be ruled out that Verhofstadt will soon be able to come through the middle and win.

If you take all of these dishonest men together, you can only conclude that that the system in Brussels is rotten to the core. Evidently it isn’t of any importance that honest and credible people take these key positions; what’s important is that the old boys’ network stays in control. No wonder that when you do a search on the phrase you notice that the question ‘Is the EU dropping to bits’ occupies an increasing amount of the Internet. These men are no friends of Europe, they’re simply dishonest people who are deliberately destroying the EU.

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